Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

December 12, 2013

Advanced Disposal appeals Deep South decision

VALDOSTA — Advanced Disposal Services has filed an appeal of a judge’s recent ruling that circumvents the company’s exclusive contract with Lowndes County and allows a competing garbage disposal company to continue operating in the county.

Advanced Disposal is also making arrangements to process collected recyclable materials at a different location after the City of Valdosta suspended the company’s access to its recycling facility.

On Dec. 2, Southern Circuit Judge Harry J. Altman ruled that Deep South Sanitation could continue collecting garbage from residents in unincorporated areas of the county and ordered the county to issue the company a license or franchise to operate.

Filed in Lowndes County Superior Court, Advanced Disposal’s appeal of Altman’s decision seeks to have the case heard in Georgia’s Supreme Court and makes reference to issues concerning Georgia’s State Constitution as the reason why the Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction over the matter.

The Lowndes County Commission has not joined Advanced Disposal in the appeal and does not plan to make a decision whether to do so until after the county receives instruction on how to enact the judge’s order.

“It’s too early to say what the county’s position is on the appeal,” said County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter. “We’ve filed for a motion of clarification on how to do what the judge ordered. Do we give Deep South a license with the same rates and same fees as Advanced Disposal? That’s the kind of clarification we need before we can move forward with a decision about the appeal.”

Cary Scarborough, Deep South’s owner, and Rob Plumb, Deep South’s attorney, believe the appeal process will take at least nine months and is an attempt by Advanced Disposal to protect “their monopoly position in this market.”

“I think the court got it right. It was a fair and balanced decision, and I hoped that would be the end of it,” said Plumb. “Our only grievance is that the county and Advanced Disposal teamed up to put Deep South out of business.”

Deep South was operating in Lowndes County before the county’s decision to take bids from companies to provide sanitation services. Deep South did not place a bid for the contract because it could not operate on the scale that the contract required, Plumb said.

Georgia Code allows counties to enter into agreements with private companies for solid-waste handling, and Judge Altman did not address the constitutionality of his order when he denied the county’s request.

Requests made to Advanced Disposal Service’s corporate office and Robert Norman, the lawyer who filed the appeal, to learn the company’s reasoning behind the appeal were not returned by press time.

Meanwhile, the City of Valdosta’s recycling center has denied Advanced Disposal further access to its facilities, citing concerns about volume.

John Whitehead III, deputy city manager for operations, said that the center could not process the company’s deliveries fast enough, and material was beginning to pile up. The suspension is temporary, Whitehead said, and was done to ensure that the city could process its recycling which increases during the holidays.

“We had been taking our recycling to the City of Valdosta, and Monday they cut us off without any notice,” said Greg Walk, local general manager for Advanced Disposal. “We’ve constructed a bunker at the landfill, and the material that is being collected in that bunker will be taken to a processing plant in Milledgeville.”

The company had to dispose of recycled materials collected Monday and Tuesday but continued recycling service Wednesday.

“It was the last thing we wanted to do to our recyclables, but we responded as quickly as possible,” said Walk.

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